On 21 October, after briefing the cabinet on political developments, Foreign Minister Dayan handed the Prime Minister a letter of resignation from the cabinet. The reason for his resignation, differences of opinion with the Prime Minister on the autonomy negotiations, was explained by Mr. Dayan later that day in an interview excerpts of which follow. Mr. Dayan's letter of resignation follows as well:
THE FOREIGN MINISTER'S LETTER OF RESIGNATION
To the Prime Minister,
I hereby submit to you my resignation from the Government. I have informed you of the reasons for this in the three talks we had on this matter, as well as in my letter to you dated 2 October 1979. I ask your indulgence if this time I make do with this brief letter.
I have many good things to say to you concerning the period in which I served in your Government. This I shall do at an appropriate time. In the meantime, allow me to thank you for your attitude towards me - which was one of patience and sometimes even of forbearance - and to wish you good health, success and fruitfulness in running the Government.
In friendship and profound esteem,
INTERVIEW WITH FOREIGN MINISTER MOSHE DAYAN
Moshe Dayan: ... There is almost no meeting with leaders of other countries where this is not the central topic - whether it be in the Far East or, all the more so in the United States. And behold, I, the Minister of Foreign Affairs found myself in a situation - I'll explain why - in which the central topic of foreign policy is not dealt with by the Foreign Ministry or the foreign minister. So the foreign minister is left to deal with marginal subjects - ceremonies, cocktails, things like that which have their own value but not when they're the only thing.
But this situation is not coincidental. I'm not in the team and I'm not responsible for heading the autonomy negotiations which means negotiations on the manner in which we and the Arabs will live together simply by chance; rather because my views do not reflect or are not the same as the basic, central ideas of this coalition of the Likud and the N.R.P. So long as the peace negotiations with Egypt were taking place I dealt with diplomatic affairs - the Foreign Ministry dealt with them - and the Prime Minister and I held common views on this question together with the rest of the members of the team. But when the second chapter - the negotiations on autonomy - began, even though I was offered to head this team, I turned it down for the reasons I have just given; that is, I don't express the basic views on this matter held by the coalition and therefore I cannot be their mouthpiece. So - to put it concisely - I am not dealing with what I'd like to deal and I am dealing with what I don't want to deal, that is, the cocktails and ceremonies.
Therefore, in these circumstances there was no point in my continuing to serve as foreign minister. In my opinion, there must be a foreign minister whose views are acceptable to the government and who will be able to express the views of the coalition on foreign policy, on the subject of relations with the Arabs, which is the central issue in foreign policy. I am not the man.
Q: Mr. Dayan, what are the major differences of opinion between you and the government.
A: I told you to read my letter. I am sorry you didn't hear it but I will not repeat it. In that letter, dated 2 October, there is the essence of the differences.
Q: Mr. Dayan, what do you intend to do now?
A: Please understand one more thing. During the next 48 hours I am still a member of the cabinet. Therefore if I hold a press conference, I will do so only after the end of that time when I will be freer to express private and personal views. At this point I had, only to explain why I resigned. Here I explained why concisely but if you read carefully the letter of 2 October which I sent to the Prime Minister you will find the main issues which divide US.
Q: Do you have plans for the future, Mr. Dayan
A: No special plans. I will continue to be a member of the Knesset; afterwards we shall see.
Q: Are you considering returning to the Labour Party, Mr. Dayan?
LETTER FROM MOSHE DAYAN TO PRIME MINISTER BEGIN
2 October 1979
Dear Mr. Begin,
Last week, in the course of a hurried conversation, I expressed to you my reservations over the manner the autonomy negotiations are being conducted and I also told you that in the present circumstances I could see no reason in my continuing in the government as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
I deem it appropriate to again make reference to the subject in a brief form.
The question of our relations with the Arabs in the territories, and not with the PLO, has appeared to me throughout all the years to be the key question in our life and is one capable of solution. At any rate, there is today no question more acute than this - both in our domestic life and particularly in our foreign relations. Every discussion we hold with leaders of European countries, the Far East and especially the United States, is focussed mainly on this matter and hence, in my opinion, it is not possible for a foreign minister to perform his functions properly (without him being personally engaged, involved and being among the formulators of Israel's policy on this question).
It is no secret to you that I differ over the technique and the substance whereby the autonomy negotiations are being conducted, and this applies, too, to a number of activities performed in the field. There is no need for me to detail the matter here. I opposed the Committee of Six as the body to conduct the negotiations (and I see no point in participating in it) and I regrettably voted against some of the main decisions: the expropriation of land, the establishment of Elon Moreh and also to sections of the clarification of Israel's positions included in the proposed principles for the autonomy arrangements.
When the autonomy negotiations began I took into account that I may perhaps be wrong and that my assumption that the negotiations, in this form, would not bear fruit would prove groundless.
True, only four months have passed since the negotiations commenced. But to my great regret I believe that in large measure the negotiations presently underway are fruitless. Be it as it may, whether I am right or not, my perception as I see it prevents me from participating in this matter; I have no doubt that given such a situation a foreign minister cannot carry out his office and that it means that he deals with marginal subjects and not with the issue that stands at the center of our policies.
In great friendship and deep esteem,